Brentford missed the chance to clinch automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship as they were beaten by Barnsley at Griffin Park. The Bees were second best in the first half and trailed at the interval but looked as if they would come back to get a win that would give them second place when Josh Dasilva equalised inside the final 20 minutes. But with both teams pushing for the winner, Barnsley grabbed the crucial goal to send Brentford in to the Play-Offs.
There was all to play for at Griffin Park with Brentford seeking a top two spot at Barnsley looking to avoid relegation from the second tier. If The Bees bettered the result of West Bromwich Albion, they would climb in to the top two, unless neither won and Fulham did at Wigan Athletic. In the end, none of the teams chasing the second automatic promotion spot won so West Brom will be in the Premier League next season while The Bees and Fulham will try again.
The win does mean that Barnsley stay up and it was a victory they deserved. They were brilliant without the ball and showed clever attacking instinct when they got it. Brentford were below par and only showed glimpses of the form that took them in to the top three. When Dasilva scored, The Bees looked like they would get over the line, but it wasn’t to be and the very lengthy 2019/20 season will continue.
Brentford had the first sight of goal when Emiliano Marcondes intercepted a loose pass, ran from deep and pulled a shot wide from 20 yards. That was, however, a rare Brentford attack in the opening exchanges. The visitors came with an attacking mindset, they had their players high up the pitch, disrupted any patterns of play Brentford tried to establish and looked potent when they had the ball.
Barnsley started the match with three central defenders and their wing backs pushed on. Luke Thomas played just behind their strikers, adding support to the midfield both with and without the ball. The visitors stopped Brentford getting the ball in to attacking areas and created chances of their own. They could have been ahead after a fine first quarter of the contest.
Thomas tested David Raya will a drilled cross-cum-shot early on, with the Brentford goalkeeper palming the effort down and calling on his defenders to clear, before Alex Mowatt, who dominated the midfield in the early stages, lashed over the bar. Thomas had a shot blocked after a turn on the edge of the penalty area and Mads Andersen headed over when well-placed soon after. Thomas had another header blocked as Barnsley made incursions on the left side.
The visitors were definitely in charge of the game in the first half hour, but Brentford almost created something out of nothing. Ollie Watkins got away on the left and, after biding his time, worked the ball inside to Saïd Benrahma, the low shot was well saved by Jack Walton and Marcondes was unable to put the loose ball in. That would have been a goal very much against the run of play and by the time Barnsley got themselves ahead just before half time, they deserved it.
The goal came after a sustained spell of pressure from the visitors. Conor Chaplin headed a corner wide and Christian Nørgaard was then robbed as Brentford tried to play out. Thomas had a shot blocked and the ball ricochet around before hitting Ethan Pinnock’s hand. Referee Robert Jones waved away appeals but Barnsley scored seconds later. A cross came in from the right that Pontus Jansson could only head half away on the stretch, Callum Styles stepped on to it and drilled it first time on the half volley past Raya and in to the net.
That lead should only have lasted four minutes. Brentford, for the first time, were able to put together a series of passes in midfield and worked some space on the left, Rico Henry cut the ball back and it reached Bryan Mbeumo on the far side, his low shot looked in but Walton went full stretch to his left and pushed the ball on to the post and out. That ensured Barnsley took a deserved lead in to half time and left The Bees with it all to do in the second period.
But the pattern of the game did not really change after the break. The visitors perhaps sat a fraction deeper, but they continued to have a positive outlook and had the better of the chances. A great from deep by Thomas set up a shooting chance for Jacob Brown but Pinnock made a brilliant block. A few moments later when Marcel Ritzmaier made progress on to the penalty area there was another challenge by Pinnock, this time it was a little untidy, but Mr Jones decided no foul had been committed.
There was another great tackle by Jansson when Barnsley broke quickly and it looked like Brown may be in. That came just after Henrik Dalsgaard had burst down the right and set up a shooting chance for Benrahma, but his effort was blocked. And that was a sign of what was to come in a frantic finish. Brentford rang the changes as they chased the win and pressed on.
Pinnock headed a free kick over for The Bees and Dasilva shot wide after a nice turn and by the time Brentford equalised with 17 minutes remaining, they had attacking players all over the pitch. The goal was created by Benrahma. He set off on a run from front to back that took him more than 50 yards and he laid the ball off to Tariqe Fosu, but his shot was blocked. The ball broke to Dasilva, he stepped away from a defender and bent a shot past Walton and in to the net.
At that stage, West Brom were drawing with Queens Park Rangers and Fulham were also level at Wigan. Brentford knew one goal would send them up and, as it turned out, the other results remained the same so a winner would have been enough. And there were chances. Ollie Watkins sliced a shot wide when Benrahma found him at the back post and the striker then weaved his way in to the box before cutting the ball back but Fosu couldn’t finish.
It was end-to-end stuff at the death with both teams putting attacking players on to the pitch. Jansson made a superb tackle to prevent Michael Sollbauer getting on to a Mowatt cross and Raya got down well to save from Styles. And when the crucial goal came, Barnsley got it. The won a second ball in Brentford territory, Patrick Schmidt delivered from the right and Clarke Odour poked in from close range. There was a suspicion of offside, but Barnsley had bodies in attacking positions and got their rewards.
That gave Brentford six minutes to score twice and the odds were against them. Dalsgaard saw a header deflect wide before Watkins had a shot blocked. The ball broke back to Sergi Canós and his effort fizzed just wide. There was still time for a Canós cross to reach Watkins, but he couldn’t turn it in, and Brentford’s last chance had gone.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock (sub Fosu 70 mins), Henry (sub Jensen 60 mins); Marcondes (sub Canós 70 mins), Nørgaard, Dasilva; Mbeumo (sub Baptiste 86 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Roerslev, Jeanvier, Valencia, Dervişoğlu
Bookings: Nørgaard (79 mins) (ninth of season), Jansson (85 mins) (fifth of season), Fosu (88 mins) (third of season)
Barnsley: Walton; Sollbauer, Andersen, J. Williams; Ludewig (sub Schmidt 89 mins), Mowatt, Ritzmaier (sub Odour 86 mins), Styles; Thomas (sub Simões 56 mins); Brown, Chaplin (sub Woodrow 86 mins)
Subs (not used): Collins, B. Williams, Bähre, Halme, Wolfe
Bookings: Williams (55 mins), Sollbauer (75 mins), Odour (90 mins)